Key negotiations involving wages and conditions for seafarers postponed again
Unions and employers, the parties in the IBF, originally scheduled to meet in 2020 to agree uplifting seafarer wages for 2021-2022. The meeting was initially scheduled for March 2020, but the onset of the COVID-19 led to an agreed deferment of the talks until July 2020.
International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) disappointed
Despite earlier arrangement of the talk scheduled to be in June 2020, representatives from the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) comprising employers requested for another adjournment to early this year. Attributing the pandemic and related governmental travel bans as reasons for postponement, the ITF reluctantly acceded to the request and set the meeting date to be in April 2021.
Unfortunately, the JNG presented another request for postponement to September 2021. This is a year and a half’s delay since the initially scheduled meeting. Noting as ITF’s last consensus to the deferment, the federation made it clear that the meeting will take place digitally in September 2021, notwithstanding prevailing restrictions.
Seafarers’ welfare a priority
Dave Heindel, ITF Seafarers’ Section chair lamented, “Our disappointment is mainly because unions and employers have been working closely on common issues throughout this pandemic. From the crew change crisis, to travel restrictions, and now vaccines – we have reached across the aisle to be united in advocating for practical solutions from governments and the industry. At the global level the ITF and JNG met online almost every week in the last year to progress our shared priorities, including on the critical issue of crew change. We hoped this collaborative, action-orientated partnership had been extended to include one of the biggest decisions needed by our industry – the future welfare and incomes of our seafarers.”
Jacqueline Smith, ITF Maritime Coordinator said: “The ITF knows that employers are incredibly concerned about labour supply issues over the next decade following the blow dealt to the perceived attractiveness of the industry by the current crew change crisis. The world has seen seafarers caught in the middle of government inaction and shameful behaviour by some in the supply chain towards crew onboard vessels beyond their contracts. There are still charterers who have ‘no crew change’ clauses in their charters with major clients, for example.
“Now is the time to tackle the issues that hold our industry back – to be working together on how to attract and retain these skilled workers. It is also the time to get on with the job that we are tasked by holding these negotiations. That would be the minimum indication to seafarers that this industry values their work, efforts, and sacrifices.”